NPR Staff

Writer Tracy Chevalier spins fiction from history. Her best-selling novel Girl with a Pearl Earring was set in the 17th-century studio of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer; 2010's Remarkable Creatures focused on 19th-century English fossil hunters; and 2005's The Lady and the Unicorn told the stories of medieval tapestry weavers. Now, Chevalier's latest book looks at a pioneer family trying to scrape out a life in the swamps of Ohio.

Women sportscasters are heartened by the jury verdict this week that awarded their colleague Erin Andrews $55 million.

Andrews was secretly videotaped while naked by a stalker through the peephole in her hotel room door. Both the stalker and the hotel owner were found liable.

The NPR Politics team is back with the weekly roundup. This week, they talk debates, fashion and what to expect on March 15, when more than a thousand delegates are at stake in six nominating contests across the country.

As always, the team wraps up their discussion with "Can't Let It Go," where they share what happened this week that they just can't get off their minds.

On the podcast:

  • Campaign Reporter Sam Sanders
  • Congressional Reporter Susan Davis

Last week, Izaic Yorks, a senior at the University of Washington, ran a mile in 3:53 — the fastest college mile ever by an American. The effort qualifies him for the Olympic trials this summer.

So why isn't Yorks running in the mile at this weekend's NCAA championships in Birmingham, Ala.?

Turns out, he had to make a decision: run that mile alone, or run with his team in the distance medley relay or DMR.

We here at The Salt like to bring you serious journalistic tails from the world of food. But hey, we like to unleash our silly side, too — and like the rest of the world, we've got a soft spot for man's (and woman's) best friend.

So of course, we're howling with delight at the latest food images charming the Internet: Meme-meister Karen Zack's clever Twitter photos highlighting the eerie resemblance between mutts and meals. In some cases, it takes dogged determination to separate the canines from the cuisine.

Helen Mirren says she hopes her new film "doesn't cause any divorces." That's because Eye in the Sky raises some very tricky moral questions. Mirren plays a U.K.-based colonel overseeing a secret drone operation in Kenya. Her mission is to capture a terrorist target, but when it becomes clear the target is assembling a suicide vest for an imminent attack, the question becomes whether to capture or kill.

Before Black Lives Matter was a hashtag, before it was a slogan chanted by protesters in cities across the country, before it was a national movement, it was a Facebook post by an Oakland-based activist named Alicia Garza. She wrote it after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

The NPR Politics team returns with a quick take about a word that seems to be on everyone's mind, both Democrats and Republicans alike: establishment. The team discusses what the establishment really means and why people are so reluctant to say they are a part of it.

The team also talks debates, the contests coming up this week, and Madonna (yes, really).

On the podcast:

  • Campaign Reporter Sam Sanders
  • Digital Political Reporter Danielle Kurtzleben

The Apple-FBI standoff, where Apple is refusing to write special software that would help investigators crack into an iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, is largely viewed as a battle between privacy and security.

If you've been following the presidential campaign, you have probably heard some talk about the power of the evangelical vote.

Pastor Max Lucado is a prominent evangelical pastor and a prolific best-selling writer who almost never writes about politics. And that's one reason millions found a recent essay of his so interesting.

Lucado took to his website to describe all the reasons he says Republican front-runner Donald Trump's tone and decorum fail the decency test, in a blog post titled "Decency for President."

President Obama has been talking about closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since he ran for president in 2008.

Now, eight years later, his administration has put out a plan to make it happen.

The plan is to transfer some of the remaining detainees to other countries and those who can't be transferred would be moved to a facility in the U.S. And that's the part of the plan many in Congress are railing against.

From M'Lynn Eatenton in Steel Magnolias to Mary Todd in Lincoln, Academy Award-winning actress Sally Field doesn't shy away from taking on emotionally charged and challenging roles.

All of these characters become a part of her in a sense. "They stay in me and they have always changed me in some way," Field tells NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro.

Now, playing a woman in her late 60s with some borderline personality issues for her latest film, Hello, My Name Is Doris, part of Doris is already in Field.

It was a love of mystery novels that brought Gary Shulze and Pat Frovarp together — a love of God Is a Bullet by Boston Teran, to be specific.

"I was looking at books," Frovarp, who is 75, tells NPR's Ari Shapiro. "Gary and I had seen each other. We didn't know one another. And he walked over to me in this particular bookstore and handed me a book by Teran and said, 'You've gotta read this book, it's really good.'"

Petina Gappah's new novel is narrated by a woman named Memory who is telling her story from inside a maximum security prison in Harare. She's been sentenced to death for murdering her adoptive father.

The story, Memory explains, "begins on a long-ago day in August when the sun seared my blistered face and I was nine years old and my father and mother sold me to a strange man."

Consider this: Frank Lloyd Wright was a procrastinator. Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are afraid of taking risks. Most of Beethoven's compositions are pretty awful. Conventional wisdom suggests these originals were successful despite their hemming and hawing, their hedging, and their many flops. But Wharton professor Adam Grant says these defects are actually fundamental to originality. In his new book, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, Adam investigates who comes up with great ideas, how, and what we can do to have more of them.

This post was updated on March 4.

On March 7, the film that won the Oscar for best documentary, short subject, will have its television premiere, airing on HBO at 9 p.m..

A Girl In The River: The Price Of Forgiveness is by Pakistani director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. The 40-minute documentary tackles the tough topic of honor killings in Pakistan, from a rare point of view: a survivor's. Saba, an 18-year-old girl, was shot and thrown in a river by her own family for secretly eloping with her lover — and lived to tell the tale.

Two composers and a songwriter walk into a bar. That's not the start of a joke; it's the start of a band.

More than 250,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced as a result of the conflict in Syria. But the destruction also extends beyond human lives. Significant parts of that country's heritage are now lost. Architecture, art and antiquities dating back more than a thousand years have been wiped out — in what some have called cultural genocide.

In 1988, when Eddie Murphy presented the nominees for Best Picture at the 60th Academy Awards, he told the audience that when he'd been invited to present the award, his initial reaction was, "I'm not going, because they haven't recognized black people in the motion picture industry."

Almost 30 years later, the 88th Academy awards will be presented under a similar cloud. For the second year in a row, all the acting nominees are white.

With apologies to Andy Williams, now is the most wonderful time of the year ... for it is Girl Scout cookie season.

But after plowing through several sleeves of Thin Mints, fatigue can set in. So we wondered, when you're starting to feel sick of Girl Scout cookies, is there a way to rekindle the love?

When the military opens front-line combat roles to women soldiers — across all branches — in April, it will mark the culmination of a years-long process, which was often subject both to consternation and controversy. It will also mark a historic first for a female service members, many of whom enlisted decades ago in a very different kind of military.

Among those women is Capt. Margie Finlay, who first enlisted in 1973.

Before NASA had its Mercury 7 astronauts, the Air Force was launching its own team into the stratosphere — in balloons.

Without the glamour or budget of NASA, these early space scientists and test pilots performed extreme experiments that helped pave the way for the Mercury crew. Among them was Captain Joseph Kittinger, who in 1960 stepped from his balloon into free fall from 103,000 feet above the ground — nearly 20 miles.

If Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz makes it to the White House, it will be historic — it would mean this country had its first ever Latino president.

Both have a Cuban background, but neither candidate can necessarily count on the support of Latino voters to win. That's because most Latinos in this country lean Democratic, even with no Latino candidate represented in the Democratic field.

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Transcript

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

A presidential race that has been full of surprises provided another one yesterday as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who dropped out of the race just over two weeks ago, said he was supporting Donald Trump.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

At an estate sale in Rochester, N.Y., in 2009, a rare book seller came upon a curious literary artifact. As it turned out, it was a memoir written in the 1850s by Austin Reed, a black man who spent most of his life in prison. It's the earliest known prison memoir by an African-American writer, and it has now been published as The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict.

Just days away from the Oscars, Hollywood continues to face down questions over its lack of diversity — particularly among the nominees for its top prize. The controversy has helped prompt a viral hashtag, #OscarsSoWhite, and has led the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to pledge to diversify in years to come.

If you got a parking ticket in the city of San Francisco between 1995 and 2012, you may be owed some money.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency says it has identified a total of $6.1 million in overpayments — in other words, vehicle owners who sent the government too much money — for some 200,000 tickets.

San Francisco issues 1.5 million tickets a year, Paul Rose, a spokesman with SFMTA, tells NPR's Robert Siegel.

From now until March 3, people can get their money back. After that, the government will keep the money.

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